For them, their decision was justified by a "relatively large minority of the public who continued to show resentment toward us."
Since being appointed to his post as head of the Disengagment Authority, Bassi and his family have been harassed. Kibbutz residents, and also those living outside the kibbutz, protested the position Bassi took upon himself, and organized protests against him. Some even threatened his family.
Following threats on his life, Bassi was outfitted with a personal bodyguard about a year before the disengagement was carried out.
Yonatan Bassi gave the letter to the kibbutz director on Friday morning. The kibbutz director in turn distributed the letter to the mailboxes of all the kibbutz members. The Bassi couple was compelled to justify their requested two year leave from the kibbutz.
"We love this place, and we love those living in it. We were both born here. The sunrise above the Gilad mountains every morning has accompanied us since the dawn of our childhood. Our entire adult lives have been invested in Sde Eliyahu. And now, on the brink of old age, how can we move to another place?" they wrote.
"A year and a half ago, we bounced back from a difficult period," wrote the Bassis. "It is very difficult. It is difficult for the people of Israel, difficult for Sde Eliyahu, and difficult for us, too. This period has created a crisis in the our relationships with some of our friends.
"In a meeting with the kibbutz director held at the end of Yonatan's term in the Prime Minister's Office in May 2006, we told him that we want to examine for half a year to a year whether our relations with the kibbutz public would return to normal. During this period we witnessed two processes: On one hand, most of the kibbutz members accepted us, and on the other hand, a relatively large minority continued to show resentment towards us," it was written in the letter.
"We know that there are many members who will feel a deep sense of pain and loss, and there are those who will also feel relief," the couple concluded their letter. "We would like to apologize for this and for the large storm that we imposed on Sde Eliyahu with the decision to work in the service of the State. We very much hope that our current decision won't reawaken the controversy."
Kibbutz director tries to dissuade Bassi family
In response to the Bassi letter, the kibbutz director distributed a letter from the kibbutz's central office expressing sorrow over the couple's decision to temporarily leave the kibbutz.
In a conversation with Ynet, Lipshitz said that discussions are being held with the couple in order to dissuade them from leaving Sde Eliyahu.
"The members are very interested in having them stay on the kibbutz. As of now, they are talking with them and trying to convince them to stay. They are part of our home, and I think that they are listening to the kibbutz members," said Lipshitz.
The Bassi couple declined a response.